Okay, imagine a dungeon with set dimensions, maybe a page of graph paper or so that changes depending on the answer to certain logic statements. Now we aren't randomly generating a dungeon here; if you make sure the same statements are triggered the dungeon should be exactly the same each time. What do I mean? How about, If a cleric is in the party then the Altar room will appear. Or, if there are more than 2 in a party the stairs to the second level appear.
Who would build such a place? I'm not sure, it might depend on what rules you set. In some ways it seems very chaotic-- the shape of the dungeon shifting constantly-- but in others it is the definition of Law-- when these strictures are met the dungeon will always be a certain layout.
This reminds me of Vows, and those could be the rules that are involved, for example if no blood is shed in the dungeon then a fountain will appear. But it also reminds me of fairy tales: On nights of a full moon there is a city in the bottom of the lake. Actually the fairy tale route might be a good way to go because by telling players some of these rules ahead of time you might avoid our problems a and b above. And that would make it more vow-like, because players would know what the rules were and hopefully they would be challenging or amusing rules to try and not break. Hmm, yeah not very different from that oaths and vows post after all. But what about coming from the other direction? What dungeon features might be interesting to pop in and out of existence.
- Access. In one example above I used stairs. Doors, bridges, hatches, ladders, stairways to heaven, haha.
- Resource areas: altars, fountains, mushroom fields,
- Geological features: geysers, waterfalls, springs, rivers, pools, stalactites/mites
But maybe we're shutting down possibilities too early, let's backtrack and think of more, non-vow-like things that could trigger dungeon statements:
- I mentioned party #, party make-up, level, gender/age mixture, cultural/ethnic (only a true Women of the West will see the door)
- party gear- if they have magic items, familiars, relics
- time of year, season, weather, day/night, moon cycle
- Whether party uses light, is noisy, camps, eats/drinks in the dungeon
- Multiple visits-- whoa, that's a whole new idea-- the dungeon that shifts somehow with each visit
What about contexts outside the gameworld itself? This would be harder to trigger with busy schedules and such, but you might have a dungeon that only has certain features if you go there on the real Halloween. Or, visit the dungeon on your birthday and the birthday fountain is there, or hah, the Flagon Wagon, travelling brew pub and eatery. But now I'm drifting more into events than structures (like Santa Claus showing up in Narnia).
Back to how the dungeon might change. I realize I focused above on what could be true or not, but what about continuums? These also might change in the dungeon based on certain rules:
- ceiling height
- light level
- water depth
- room dimensions
- creature population densities
- wind intensity